Skip to Content
Today Open today 11–5

Bag (Apo Ileke)

A work made of cloth, glass beads, and thread.

Image actions

  • A work made of cloth, glass beads, and thread.


Mid–20th century


Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

Eye-catching beaded regalia are worn by people of political and spiritual importance in a Yoruba community. The motifs and writing on this bag tell us that it was owned by a high-ranking member of the Ogboni society, a group of male and female elders that serve as a balance to the power of the king. Olowo is a senior title in the society and Popoola Oriri is probably the title-holder’s name. The bag’s three stylized faces evoke Ogboni symbolism. Within Ogboni, the number three is said to represent the spiritual qualities of the earth and the earth’s importance in human affairs.
This bag is semicircled in shape, with an attached strap. In addition to the depiction of the three faces, the red, orange, white, and yellow beading creates a pattern depicting two flower shapes and a complex knot form on the front of the bag. Beads and the act of beading hold spiritual associations for the Yoruba. The intensity of the color, the beads’ light-reflective qualities, and the intricate designs have contributed to the high repute of Yoruba beaded work across the world.


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa




Bag (Apo Ileke)


Nigeria (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Cloth, glass beads, and thread


22.9 × 21.6 cm (9 × 8 1/2 in.) (excluding strap)

Credit Line

Gift of Michael, Inez, and Julian Brunner

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions